US Masters 2019

Pre-Tour Dallas

Our trip started in Dallas, where we stayed at the Grand Hyatt hotel literally above DFW airport. Located mid-way between Dallas and Fort Worth, we were able to easily access both cities. Welcome drinks were held in the hotel on the first evening and we were able to meet most of the crew (a few were delayed due to flight vagaries and other commitments). 

Our first golf game was at the Old American Club, a traditional course. Jet lag and extraordinarily tricky greens meant that most people struggled a bit. Our winner of the day seemed to be the only one who conquered the course. The daily prize of a shirt from the pro-shop was much appreciated by all.

 That night we headed in to the old west city of Fort Worth. Drinks were at legendary White Elephant bar – and a tradition of margaritas for the women and local beer for the men was started. After a steak dinner, many headed to the Friday night rodeo and onto a local hotspot. Both bars featured excellent bands and friendly locals dressed to the nines in full western gear.

Saturday was a golf-free day, and the afternoon meant a private tour of Dallas. The highlight of this was following JFK’s route through the city, and visiting the Dealey Plaza 6th floor museum. Most folk went to watch the local ice-hockey team, the Dallas Stars, play their final regular round game, against Minnesota Wild. After a scoreless first 2 periods, the Stars ran away with the game, leaving the partisan local crowd very happy.

The next day, Sunday, saw us playing at Dallas Cowboys Golf Club. The fairways were immaculate and the greens a little fairer than the previous course. 

Main Tour – The Masters

Monday dawned and we travelled from DFW to Atlanta for Masters Week.  Our accommodation was at beautiful Lake Oconee – a traditional American summer lake and golf resort, where there are numerous high quality courses within a few minutes’ drive.  We settled into our luxury condominiums and houses, and tried to get some rest for the next day’s golf. 

We woke to steady rain, but this didn’t dampen our enthusiasm… much. We experienced a very wet first 9 holes at The National Course, but were rewarded with a dry back nine on a course hugging beautiful Lake Oconee. We enjoyed the first of three dinners at various restaurants in the resort over the week.

Wednesday was our first (very) early pickup for the drive through Georgia countryside to famed Augusta National.  This is the final practice round day for the professionals, with the legendary Par 3 competition in the afternoon.  This was our chance to see up close and personal some of the absolute icons of the game – Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Fred Couples to name a few. The Par 3 course is a separate, adjacent course to the main track, with some terrific viewing opportunities.  It was intriguing to see Nicklaus have difficulty in placing a tee into the ground, but still hit the ball incredibly well over water onto tricky, small greens.  There were holes-in-one, families caddying, and kids taking on putting responsibilities (with mixed results!).  It was a relaxed, charming afternoon.  Wednesday is the last day that cameras are allowed on course, so it is the perfect opportunity to take some snaps of your favourite players and capture those iconic course angles.  We enjoyed both breakfast and dinner at Perrin House, our hospitality home for the week.

Another golf game awaited us on Thursday, at Cuscowilla Golf Club, and Saturday at The Oconee Golf Course,  where we once more experienced manicured fairways, water carries and gorgeous little friendly fox squirrels.  We were able to play early golf and head back to our accommodation to watch the tournament coverage live, while enjoying a relaxed drink.  It was with delight that we celebrated with special client Janiece who took out the “Georgia Green Jacket” for the best 2 Stableford scores of the 3 rounds of golf played in Georgia.  Consistent, smart golf won the day.

Our Masters experience consisted of attending Wednesday’s practice / Par 3 round (see above), and the tournament rounds of Friday and Sunday.  We were all excited to head to Augusta early, place our Masters chairs in a good vantage point, and follow our favourite players.  It is a Masters tradition that these chairs cannot be moved by another person, and remain in their spot whether occupied or not until removed by the owner.  It is acceptable to temporarily sit in someone else’s chair, as long as it is vacated should the owner return. Some of the group headed straight down to Amen Corner or the 16th green to plonk their chairs for the day, and others went to the central vantage point of the 2nd green, including yours truly. On Friday we perched ourselves at the back of the green, slightly elevated. We watched every group come through – on this par 5 hole there is a good view of the approach shot, as well as putts.  From this location there is also easy access to food, amenities and a couple of tees and greens.  We also walked down to Amen Corner, took advantage of some empty chairs, and watched players on the 11th green and the notorious par 3 12th hole. There was rain in the morning, but our raincoats and ponchos prevented us becoming completely soaked, and the afternoon was sunny and hot, allowing us to dry out.

The final tournament day, Sunday, we were at the gates by 6am, ready to get as close as possible to the 18th green to place our chairs. The whole group managed to get extremely great positions, with many being in the front row, level with the pin.  Having secured these spots, we wandered off to make a last visit to the merchandise store. This is an experience in itself, where attendees are able to buy Masters memorabilia including clothing, posters, candles, wash bags, pet accessories, tableware and obviously golf accessories. With storms threatening, officials had made the surprising decision to start all groups off in the early morning, using both 1st and 10th tees. This meant that there was plenty of great golf, and groups in contention, from early in the day. We watched some groups come through the 2nd green again, cheering on our Aussie contenders Adam and Jason, as well as other favourites Brooks, Dustin, Louis and Jon. We also spent some time on the 8th green where very few players were able to get the ball to stay from their second shot. Only Jon Rahm was able to get the ball close to the pin and stick – he went on to make the put for a rare eagle on that hole.  Once the top 12 or so groups were finishing, we made our way to our seats on the 18th green. Soon after, a highlight was having Justin Thomas politely approach our group wondering whether we knew where his ball had ended up, but no one in the crowd had seen it. It turned out that the ball had landed behind the rows of seats and the standing spectators.  We were all instructed to leave our seats, many of which were moved by officials. A few of us were led to the green fringe where we sat still until the hole was played out – one could not be any closer to the action!

There is an idiosyncratic rule at the Masters – no electronic devices whatsoever are allowed on course.  While this was inconvenient for communication between members of our group, and seemed strange initially that we scores and tournament progress is not readily available to the attendees, it makes for great theatre: all crowds are dependent on looking out for the manual scoreboards changing over to reflect each player’s results. A full leaderboard is located at the 18th green.  Each player’s hole-by-hole cumulative score is displayed after their name and current scores are flipped back out of sight – the crowd waits with baited breath as a new score is flipped back up and posted. Each time Tiger’s score was being adjusted and eventually displayed, there were loud cheers and gasps.  When Francesco’s double bogey was revealed, the crowd’s disbelief was awesome – the excitement and tension of this entire process was incredible. I hope this never changes. The result was not known until the final hole was played by the final group, and a more thrilling conclusion would be hard to find. Tiger was an extraordinarily popular winner, and we were so excited to be there for the making of history.

Post-Tour Las Vegas

We were excited to get back into the city lights for a final few days in Las Vegas.  Some of the group attended planned concerts and shows, while others simply enjoyed excellent dining and shopping.  We had two full days in Las Vegas, where, of course, we played 2 of the region’s bucket-list courses.  First up was Wolf Creek, on a day that was bitterly cold and squally.  This course has been carved out of the desert, and features incredible elevation changes.  There were wildflowers, red dirt and plenty of trouble for regular golfers.

The next day we were privileged to play Shadow Creek, which is a full-on celebrity experience, from the limousine transfer, to the star-studded locker room. The course itself is lush and gorgeous, with trees framing every hole. We were lucky enough to see a real roadrunner bird which intrigued our playing group. The whole day felt like a real treat, and should be a course every golfer aspires to.

We reluctantly packed our bags and memories and headed home, but vowed to return.

This inaugural trip to the Masters, along with the pre- and post- tours was held in conjunction with Golf To The Max.

On The Tee in Mallorca

In typical On The Tee fashion, we pick locations that offer more than just golf, and Mallorca fits the bill perfectly. This Balearic Island was a superb extension to our South of France and French Riviera Tours. The weather was perfect - sunny skies and warm days. Simply superb.

The golf was simply out of this world. The island has over 20 golf courses to choose from, no wonder it has become the ideal destination for European golfers looking for their slice of the sun. According to a number of the local operators, On The Tee is the first Australian golf travel company to host a group of Australian golfers in Mallorca, which is surprising considering that it ticks all the boxes for a super golf trip. It is definitely a destination that will stay on our agenda.

The courses we played were beautifully maintained, all had superb club-houses and excellent facilites. We chose three courses, Alcanada, Son Gual and Son Muntaner. Son Gual came with the additional sport of guessing the airline, as it was right under the flight path. You’d be surprised at the number of airlines we Australians had never come across before. You’d also be surprised at the sheer number of planes landing during one round of golf!

We spent some time in the historical village of Pollenca, before moving closer to the coast. Palma is an amazing city, with a long history.

The Cathedral is the city's architectural landmark. Its size is remarkable and with interior features designed by Antoni Gaudí and Miquel Barceló, it truly is a unique cathedral. We wandered from the cathedral along the medieval streets and public squares, stepping out of the way of the touristy horse-drawn carts that share the road with pedestrians. We could spend days exploring this stunning city with its mix of old and new.

The train and tram trip to Soller and to the port of Soller is a must. An exquisite day’s outing and opportunity to see more of this Balearic Island. As on our other two 2019 European tours, art was never far away. We enjoyed an unscheduled visit to the Picasso Ceramic Museum at Soller Station and viewed some extraordinary Picasso ceramics. The highlight for all was an afternoon on a motor cruiser, swimming, soaking up the wine and drinking champagne. That’s one of the reasons our customers keep coming back, we go that one step further to make our trips memorable.

Golf On The French Riviera

Our golf trip to the French Riviera coincided with the Cannes Film Festival and the Monaco Grand Prix, what a fantastic time to tour the playground of the rich and famous!

Golf

We loved the peaceful setting of the Royal Mougins Golf Club situated between the sea and the mountains. Designed by the late Robert von Hagge, the course stretches across a tree-lined valley surrounded by olive trees and ancient stonewall terracing. It has a real Provencal feel to it. Lunch with the well-heeled at Terrasse du 18 after golf was quite a treat.

We played the prestigious Cannes Mougins course. This private club founded in 1923 is well known for the quality of the fairways and the speed of the greens. For 14 years, the club hosted the Cannes Open. This flagship competition on the European circuit has included prestigious players such as Greg Norman, Severiano Ballesteros and Ian Woosnam among its winners.

The Gary Player designed course at Chateau de Taulane with its seven lakes in the heart of Gorges du Verdon was an outstanding course to finish the tour on. Our only shotgun start of the tour, in a full field of French golfers, made the round even more special. Definitely a course I’d like to play again.

French gastronomy

We seemed to stumble upon Michelin star restaurant after Michelin star restaurant. The food was simply outstanding. The tiny village of Mougin has produced more than its share of Michelin chefs - just the place for fine food lovers.

Places to see and be seen

La Promenade des Anglais in Nice is one of France’s most iconic seafronts and so very instagramable. Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild -the villa and gardens overlook the Mediterranean Sea and are simply stunning. We loved the charm of the stone architecture and the narrow alleys of Gourdon and St Paul de Vence. The genius of Henri Matisse is something to behold in the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence  in which he combined the artistic and the spiritual. Matisse considered the chapel his ‘masterpiece’.

The golf courses we played were all in superb condition, the resorts we stayed at were excellent, the Michelin Star restaurants did nothing to stop our expanding waistlines, the art was sublime, the tour guides superb and the company outstanding! On The Tee cannot wait to bring this tour back to the market in 2020.

Golf, Art and Good Food in Provence.

So much to see and to do.

Bonjour and a smile, goes a long way!

With no French, I had a few concerns about travelling with a group of golfers in Provence. I found that a smile and friendly “bonjour” went a long way. Some miming and charades along with a smile and somehow I was understood. Sure it’s much easier if you do speak some French, but it can be done.

Golf

Every course we played was totally different. We played the only Seve Ballesteros course in France, Pont Royal on a cool and windy day. The views of the Luberon and Alpilles were stunning. We expected a tough course based on the course rating but we were all surprised that it played easier than anticipated.

The Ronald Fream designed Fregate was a firm favourite - a challenging and technical course with extraordinary scenery and numerous viewpoints over the Mediterranean. We were all well prepared for the challenges of the Fregate course, having played a practise round on the Fregalon course.

Golf de Servannes was another picturesque and challenging course where olive trees tend to find wayward shots. The greens were fast and consistent, just the way we like them! The sixth was one of the stand-out holes.

Golf at the beautiful Domaine de Manville made for an exciting final round. It's the only course we’ve come across with a geometric theme - rectangular bunkers and greens of various geometric shapes. The tee-boxes had interesting and hard to find locations, some required climbing and orienteering skills to find.

Be prepared to eat well

Consider losing a kilo or two before a trip to France as you’re bound to gain weight, rather rapidly! The food was truly magnificent, from the baguettes to the numerous Michelin star restaurants we ate at. More fabulous food than our waistlines could cope with. It is worth noting that French golfers walk and either carry their bag or use a push buggy - it’s no wonder that most looked like they were fresh from a fashion shoot - stylish, fit and trim.

Markets

A highlight of any trip to Provence is at least one visit to the open-air markets and the explosion of colour, scents and sounds that await. They’re fun to explore even if you’re not there to shop. You’ll be amazed at the different cheeses, breads, chestnut creams, truffles, oils, olives - anything that goes in a picnic basket, really. And the fabrics, tableclothes, clothes and gifts and so much more.

Dogs

The French love their dogs. They accompany their owners to restaurants, shops and can even be spotted on golf courses. Some work for their treats, hunting for truffles! Somehow the dogs tend to match the owners - burly men with bulky breeds and stylish ladies with impeccably groomed tea-cup size dogs in tow.

Perched villages

High up on rocky crags, many with a castle and the remains of fortified city walls, you can’t miss the perched villages dotting the countryside. We wandered through so many narrow cobbled streets with stone-built houses, shops, a church or two, an art gallery or three, a trebuchet, a fountain in the square and pavement restaurants. Don’t be surprised to see famous art works in the local Musee, maybe a chapel designed by Folon or an art show projected on quarry walls. There is so much more to see and do than just golf!

See the calanques

Calanques? A series of rocky limestone cliffs and bays between the city of Marseille and the town of Cassis, which we saw from the sea. Basically inlets that have been formed in the limestone cliffs, leaving behind a series of beautiful little bays with clear water and secluded beaches.

Art

So many iconic artists are associated with Provence, Cézanne especially. We visited his favourite painting spot in Aix, and its spectacular views of his biggest love, Mount Sainte-Victoire - he painted it 87 times. Cézanne’s work inspired many later artists, particularly Picasso, who called Cézanne ‘the father of us all’. Saint- Remy is home to the clinic where Van Gogh was treated for depression in 1889, during which time he spent many hours painting. We followed his trail to discover the places in his paintings, like the Quai du Rhône which is in ‘The Starry Night’ and ‘Pont de Langlois’. We were especially fortunate to catch the Thannhauser Collection on show at the beautiful Hotel Caumont in Aix.

Truffle Hunting

We spend a brilliant afternoon hunting for truffles and drinking endless glasses of champagne and truffle treats. A winner with this group of golfers!

Truly the ultimate trip for golfers with a passion for the arts and a love of fine food. On The Tee trips are so much more than just golf - we aim for the complete experience each destination has to offer.

Get in touch if you’d like to join us in Provence in 2020.

info@onthetee.com.au

Course Tips - Yellow Tees at Jack's Point

Course Tips - Yellow Tees at Jack's Point

Course tips are generally available for most courses - but extremely rarely from a women's perspective. We've set about to remedy this, starting with Jack's Point.  When playing an unfamiliar course, its a confidence booster to stand on the tee-box and have a good idea about where you need to land the ball to get the most bang for your drive.

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